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A Life In Music

November 30, 2015

 

So I’m taking a slightly different approach with this post, as suggested by my good friend, John Castleman, a fabulous jazz trumpet player. John and I got into a conversation one day about my escapades as an aspiring teenage rock star growing up in New Jersey in the 1980’s. To me, my experiences seem ordinary. Apparently, though, the stories, and the way I tell them, evoke a certain nostalgia and rekindle the feelings of those carefree days of youth. And, according to John, they also give hope and inspiration to the younger generation. So a big thanks to John for his encouragement to tell these stories. I hope you will find joy and meaning in this first and others that come.

 

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After my first electric guitar, there was no turning back. I had been taking guitar lessons for 5 years, three spent intensely studying classical guitar. It was fine, great actually. I could read music ve...

November 23, 2015

 

​During my first year as an undergraduate music major, my jazz ensemble professor gave me some invaluable advice: save everything. What he meant was that I should keep any physical item(s) associated with an accomplishment. 

 

Up to that point, I had been sort of doing this already. My mom, a well-organized person, had been saving all my achievements and compiling them into a scrapbook. When I got married and moved out of my parents’ house, my mom bestowed this book to me, and I have it now. It goes as far back as third grade— when I was in the newspaper for the first time for cleaning up a local reservoir with my Cub Scout den— to the end of my first year of college, the point at which my wise professor encouraged me to keep the saving tradition alive.

 

I listened and obeyed. And I’m glad I did, because now I have hundreds of individual pieces of memorabilia that document nearly every musical...

November 16, 2015

 

Performing and composing music have been at the nucleus of my musical activity since I was a kid. I eventually began teaching when I was in high school, mostly giving private lessons, but I always conceived of teaching as a financial means to an artistic end— I taught to support my performance habit. Moreover, as I reflect on my early college years, I realize I was somewhat of a snobbish undergraduate performance major, looking down my nose at the non-performance majors, especially the music education majors. My view was, if you’re not performing (or at least composing), then you’re not really doing the thing that music is all about: you’re not creating.

 

Boy, was I wrong. 

 

When I became an education major as a doctoral student, I saw things from the other side. I realized that teaching isn’t merely a means to subsidize a performance career. It is an art in itself and a critical profession,...

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